Five Questions with Patrice Nganang, Cameroonian author, poet, and human rights defender
Author, poet, and professor Patrice Nganang has been one of the foremost advocates on behalf of PEN Honorary Member Enoh Meyomesse, a writer and politician who was sentenced in December 2012 to seven years in prison. (Click here to view an interactive timeline about Enoh Meyomesse or click here to send an e-letter to the government of Cameroon.) We connected with Patrice over email to find out more about his work.
1. Why is the case of Enoh Meyomesse important in Cameroon?
Every case of a human rights violation is important. The principle is simple. In a republic, every citizen is in danger when an innocent person is in prison. As for Enoh, his capture, torture, incarceration, and sentencing are an epitome of how free-thinking citizens are treated in Cameroon today. Enoh Meyomesse was a writer and a presidential candidate who was rounded up on his return from a trip abroad while his house was ransacked at the same time. He was kept in solitary confinement for a month, and then thrown in jail and sentenced to seven years in prison, without any accuser, without anybody testifying against him, without any proof of his wrongdoing, and then sentenced by a military tribunal even though he is a civilian. One has to imagine a country in which such a thing can happen while the president of Cameroon declares in Paris, in front of the international press, that there are no human rights violations in Cameroon, and claims that the country is the freest on earth. Enoh Meyomesse’s case reminds us how rotten the political system is in Cameroon and the cost of a lack of international news about the country, or about French-speaking African countries for that matter, and why people awake only when a country like Mali collapses.
The Poetry Foundation | Record-a-Poem on SoundCloud
“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words,” said Edgar Allan Poe.
April is National Poetry Month. The Poetry Foundation is encouraging you to participate. Record your favorite poem or find some to read here. Submit to their SoundCloud group at https://soundcloud.com/groups/record-a-poem.
Talented designer and illustrator Beci Orpin was the speaker at the very first CreativeMornings/Melbourne event of this year. Talking about what happiness is for her, Beci titled her talk: Happiness is…
Beci has to force herself to work in her sketchbook, but it creates a rewarding process and leads to some of her best work.
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not trying hard enough or pushing yourself hard enough.
Riding my bike.
When you have a challenging problem, sometimes you just need to take a step back and change your pace—go for a walk or ride your bike, just get out of studio. It will make you feel 100x better.
Ignoring the rules.
A willingness to break the rules can lead to different opportunities, and set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Having my cats around.
Become who doesn’t love being surrounded by cats?
Doing different things allows you to move into different fields and make a variety of work. It also keeps you from getting bored.
Find your creative community and people than you can watch and learn from, as well as be inspired by.
Running your own race.
It’s really easy to compare yourself to your peers. Being jaded is a big waste of energy. Stop worrying about what other people are doing, and focus on making sure that you’re doing a really good job at what you’re doing.
Watch the talk.
A cresting wave of African businesswomen are harnessing Africa’s enterprises and brands as the continent enjoys its greatest economic success in generations.
Alicia Anabel Santos is a New York born Dominican Lesbian Writer who is passionate about writing works that empower and inspire women to find their voices. A self-identified Latina Writer, Performance Artist, Producer, Playwright, and Activist, who after reading one too many stories about women she could not wholly relate to, decided to write her own tales that would honor women throughout Latin America and at the same time represent the American-born Latina experience which led her to launch the New York City Latina Writers Group.
Alicia Anabel recently published her memoir, Finding Your Force: A Journey to Love and is currently completing a historical fiction novel titled, The Daughters of the Revolution. Her one-woman show, I WAS BORN, was selected as part of the ONE Festival in 2011, held in NYC. Santos has worked for renowned magazines BusinessWeek, Glamour and Domino, but it was an article published in Urban Latino Magazine, “Two Cultures Marching to One Drum,” that would change the direction of her life. In 2008, she joined Creador Pictures as Writer /Co-Producer of its first documentary, “Afro Latinos: La Historia Que Nunca Nos Contaron / AfroLatinos: The Untaught Story”, a project that will change the way the world sees color and race relations in Latin America.
“AfroLatinos: The Untaught Story” is a documentary that illustrates history and celebrates the rich culture of people of African descent. The documentary covers the story from how and when slaves were brought to Central and South America to the identity-related issues in the Hispanic community today.
Alician Anabel lives in Harlem, NYC with her daughter Courtniana. She is a freelance writer and activist against sexual and physical abuse towards women and children.
Rise Africa received the opportunity to interview Alicia Anabel. Here’s what she had to say… (read interview)
On the one hand, some of the successes of African women’s movements can be attributed to the roles played by international organisations in catalysing change, providing broad spaces for debate and action, and offering examples for African nations and campaigners to emulate.
But on the other hand, African organisations can be seen to have taken unique and novel approaches to campaigning for female empowerment in ways that have influenced the rest of the world.
In Africa, the term “feminism” has often carried with it the baggage of being regarded as a Western and foreign construct. However, this is rapidly changing as feminism itself has been increasingly redefined by women leaders in Africa to suit their own purposes.
While some of these women’s rights agendas have been inspired by international feminisms, African women are themselves contributing significantly to global understandings and implementation of women’s rights as we see in the struggles over quotas and constitutional reform.
When they came to the 1980 World Conference on Women in Copenhagen, for example, African women representatives were prepared with draft policy proposals regarding development. As Devaki Jain explained in Women, Development and the UN,
“African women were several steps ahead of the rest of the world’s women during the 1960s and 1970s” as they were already conducting research and translating it into policy recommendations for government officials and regional bodies.
The notion of ‘gender mainstreaming’ that became popular in the 1980s had been articulated by women like Jacqueline Ki-Zerbo from Burkina Faso already in 1960, when at a UN meeting she argued for the need to “keep a double stream, to have specific support for women while at the same time trying to involve them in the mainstream of decisions and actions”.
More recently, women’s increasingly visible presence in African legislatures has also resulted in new global discussions about strategies to enhance women’s political representation.
Scandinavian scholars like Drude Dahlerup and Lenita Freidenvall, for example, have argued that the incremental model of increasing women’s representation in parliament that led to high rates of female representation in the Nordic countries in the 1970s has now been replaced by the ‘fast track’ African model whereby dramatic jumps in parliamentary representation are brought about by the introduction of electoral quotas.
In the predominantly Muslim country of Senegal, for instance, the proportion of female parliamentary representatives jumped from 23% to 43% in the 2012 elections, following the adoption of a new parity law.
For over a decade, the movement Conseil Senegalais des Femmes (COSEF) had been campaigning for greater gender parity and their efforts finally bore fruit with the establishment of a law that ensured candidate lists alternate between male and female candidates.
Another area that has generated considerable momentum in Africa has been the adoption of ‘gender budgets’, or attempts to make the gender implications of national spending priorities more explicit and ultimately fairer. After the 1995 UN Women’s Conference in Beijing, many countries in Africa adopted women’s budgets patterned along the lines of South Africa’s 1994 budget exercise.
While South Africa’s budget was itself inspired by Australia in 1984, gender budgeting has been taken on by a number of countries across Africa, facilitating its subsequent spread more widely in the rest of the world.
The European Union has endorsed this approach as have the parliaments of some of its member states such as Germany.